A pigeon held by Indian police for eight months has been released after an investigation dismissed suspicions that it was a spy for China. The bird was caught in Mumbai and had “messages” written on its wings in “Chinese calligraphy,” the Times of India reported on Friday.
“The police initially opened an espionage case against the bird, but withdrew the charges after completing their investigation,” the paper said. The bird was detained at a city hospital while police investigated.
This took “a surprising eight months,” the animal rights organization PETA denounced on Thursday. The NGO reported that police on Wednesday “gave the hospital formal permission to release the pigeon.”
This pigeon is the latest of several arrested by Indian authorities on suspicion of espionage. Border guards detained a pigeon in 2016 after discovering it carrying a threatening message for Prime Minister Narendra Modi near India’s border with rival Pakistan.
Another pigeon was held under armed guard in 2010 after it was found in the same region with a ring around its leg and a Pakistani phone number and address stamped on its body in red ink. In this case, officials ordered that no one be allowed to visit the pigeon because the pigeon may have been on a “special spy mission.”